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MAIN Arrow to Toy ReviewsToy Reviews Arrow to BarbieBarbie

Barbie Celebrates Her 50th Birthday

In 1959, Barbie from Willows, Wisconsin was introduced to a skeptical toy industry and made quite an impression at that year's New York Toy Fair.

She was sporting her famous blond ponytail, eye-popping black-and-white bathing suit, stylish open-toed shoes, dark eye makeup, too-cool shades and golden hoop earrings.

A gallon of gas was 25 cents, the average annual wage was $5,000 and the first Ponytail Barbie sold for $3. In the first year, 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold.

The Barbie mirrored the sophisticated glamour of 1950s stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Elizabeth Taylor . She donned high arched brows, pursed red lips, a sassy pony tail with curly bangs and a coy, sideways glance. Although most remembered for having blonde locks she was sold as a brunette too. Even her figure was high fashion and model-esque, with pale, ivory skin, long slim legs and a narrow waist and hips.

Original Barbie, 1959
Hispanic Barbie
Black Barbie
Barbie on her 50th birthday
Barbie, 1959
Hispanic Barbie, 1980
Black Barbie, 1980
Barbie 2009

Barbie through the years

Not to be held back Barbie evolved with the times and trends. The 60s Barbie had much softer looking eye makeup, a less arched eyebrow and for the first time, blue irises. Barbie introduced a third hair color - "Titian", a popular term for red hair at the time (1961). The hairstyle went from pony tail to bouffant bubble-cut hairstyle and fashions that mirrored First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Then it was on to the sleek hair and clothes of the multi-colored, swirling Mod era.

Along come the 70s; from "Flower Power" to "girl power" to fun-in-the-sun-power, Barbie doll's diverse style reflected the 70s alternative lifestyles. Skirts went from mini to maxi and hair was long and loose. Barbie debuted with a new face sculpt, including the addition of an open smile with pearly white teeth, and, thanks to the groundswell of the feminist movement and female empowerment, her sparkling blue eyes faced-forward for the first time.

Like everything in the '80s, the style of Barbie was, like, totally bold and so totally excessive. She took shoulder pads, scrunchies, big belts and leggings to a whole new level. Neon never looked so good. For the first time, African-American Barbie and Hispanic Barbie were introduced.

In rolled the 90's shoulder pads were still big but hair was even bigger with teased bangs and perms. Totally Hair Barbie was the best-selling Barbie doll to date, and celebrated the "big hair" craze and loud fashions of the early 90s. Geraldine Ferraro's historic Vice Presidential selection, professional women's basketball beat all the odds when it began its first WNBA basketball season, and Barbie got behind the wheel as a NASCAR driver.

Barbie Turns 50

Welcome the new millennium and another Barbie makeover featuring a new, more athletic physique, a bendable, flexible waist and her first belly button. She toned down the glam with more natural looking makeup and gentle open smile and two-toned blonde hair.

Every decade Barbie brings new and exciting changes for the pop icon. After all what's a 50th birthday without a makeover?

Let's celebrate with some Barbie trivia and fun facts:

  • Barbie's real name is Barbie Millicent Roberts.

  • Barbie is from Willows, Wisconsin. She attended Willows High School.

  • Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, brought her vision of a three-dimensional doll to life with the introduction of Barbie in 1959.

  • Barbie first appeared in the now-famous black-and-white striped swimsuit and signature ponytail.

  • Barbie has four sisters: Skipper (1964), Stacie (1992), Kelly (1995) and Krissy (1995)
    Barbie's first pet was a horse named Dancer.

  • The first Barbie doll sold for $3.00 (1959).

  • Barbie's signature color is Barbie pink: PMS 219.

  • Barbie's first boyfriend, Ken, debuted two years after Barbie in 1961.

  • Ken was named after the son of Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler.

  • Ken and Barbie broke up on Valentine's Day in 2004 after being together more than 43 years.

  • The best-selling Barbie doll ever was the 1992 Totally Hair Barbie, with hair from the top of her head to her toes, she had the longest locks ever for Barbie, measuring 10½".

  • Barbie has been outfitted by more than 70 famous couturiers.

  • Barbie has had more than 108 inspirational careers.

For all things Barbie visit and check out Barbie's very own Facebook page.

also see -> Barbie Gets a Real Malibu Dream House for her 50th

Barbie Party Ideas | Barbie Power Wheels

also see in Shopping -> Buying Collectibles

More about Barbie's 50th birthday around the Web:

Barbie's 50th Birthday - ABC News Photo Gallery

In pictures: Barbie's 50th birthday celebrations!


Toy Guru Toy & Game ReviewsAbout the Author: Mary Rose is a Mommy, a writer and an early childhood educator who believes in learning through play and the value of good toys.


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